Holy Names University began in 1868 as the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, when a half-dozen Sisters of the Holy Names, a teaching order from Montreal, Canada, accepted an invitation to come to Oakland to establish a school for girls, and train future teachers (a so-called “normal” school).

Originally, the convent was located on the shores of Lake Merritt, which in the 1860's was considered to be “far in the country, wild and brush covered, a thicket for rabbits and quail.” Today, the Kaiser Center stands on the site of the original school.

By 1909, post-secondary level classes were being offered, and the school was renamed the College of the Holy Names. In 1956 the Sisters sold the Lake Merritt site to the Kaiser Corporation, and in 1957 moved to the current location at 3500 Mountain Boulevard, in the Oakland Hills. The college became co-ed in 1971, and became a university in 2004.

Convent of the Sacred Heart, Oakland (1892) 1plaque at former site
photo from Our Oakland

Excerpt from 1950 Sanborn map showing College of the Holy Names and adjacent landmark auto dealership
(fair use)

 

Links and References

  1. Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division